Saturday 28 December 2019

Charles Moore "guest edits" 'Today'

Going back to a post from 23 November, here are our comments reacting to the news that Charles Moore was going to be one of the five guest editors on Today this Christmas alongside Lady Hale,  Greta Thunberg, George the Poet and Grayson Perry:
Anonymous: I also thought it was a joke when I read it on Guido. I am forced to think the BBC is deliberately taking the mickey and has done this just to hear all the complaints and generally wind up the "normal people" out here. Charles Moore should say "thanks, but no thanks" and not dignify this charade with his presence. 
Craig: To be cynical, I did wonder myself if choosing Charles Moore - a regular critic of BBC bias - was the cherry on the icing on the cake of a deliberate BBC act of provocation, and that he'd do himself and his cause no favours by playing along with them. However flattering he might find the invitation, it would do him huge credit to turn it down. 
Monkey Brains: I agree entirely that Moore should have refused this dubious "honour". I've read plenty of stuff from him to suggest that he knows how the BBC work...why didn't he realise he was being set up? Just because you're a "guest editor" doesn't mean you get to choose to select the narrative. Thunberg's BS will go unchallenged but the presenters will do everything in their power to undermine whatever it is Moore is trying to get across.
Yes, we saw it coming. 

Charles Moore tried his best to dodge the trap today and carry the fight to the BBC: He made the programme discuss BBC bias and the BBC licence fee. He made them interview someone from the Global Warming Policy Foundation and Matt Ridley (in anticipation of Greta Thunberg on Monday). He made them talk about whether judges are too involved in political decisions with Lord Howard (in response to Lady Hale). He asked them to interview a transgender relative of his own (in reflection of the BBC's obsession with the subject). He even got them to give today's Thought For The Day spot to a conservative Catholic bishop (Philip Egan) - something that may be unprecedented.

But, as MB said, though "guest editor", the BBC remained in control throughout, and Nick Robinson in particular seemed to be doing everything in his power to undermine whatever it was that Charles Moore was trying to get across.

A few points:

(1) Charles Moore got the two-hour Saturday edition  (one of the two short ones). Lady Hale and Greta are getting three hours.
(2) Unlike Grayson Perry on Boxing Day and Lady Hale yesterday, who were heard from several times throughout  the programme, getting involved in several interviews and features, Charles Moore made only two short appearances. 
(3) His first appearance, where the BBC was discussed, wasn't a one-on-one interview but a joint interview with a BBC defender conducted by Justin Webb.
(4) The man from the GWPF was given a tough time and Nick Robinson treated him as if he were holding him at a considerable distance with tongs. 
(5) The discussion of transgenderism and autism with his relative Felix Moore became very uncomfortable when Justin quoted something Charles had previously said critical of aspects of transgenderism and invited Felix to respond, and an emotional-sounding Felix said it was"an appalling thing to say" - putting Charles Moore 'in the dock'. (He didn't get a chance to defend himself afterwards.)
(6) Nick Robinson's Lord Ridley interview was short and feisty. There were interruptions galore, and it turned into something of a scrap.
(7) Justin Webb's interview with Professor David King was decent but noticeably gentler. 
(8) The closing five-minute interview with Charles Moore began with a clip of Mrs Thatcher being pro-EEC, and then the interruptions and hostile questions from Nick Robinson flowed. The guest editor was 'in the dock' again. It was another scrap.
(9) Nick Robinson, often a target for Charles Moore's criticisms of the BBC, became hyperactive when any criticism of the BBC was made. Why not let critics of the BBC say what they want to say while pushing back gently and then let the audience judge, Nick, instead of rampaging around like an aggrieved rhinoceros with a hosepipe?

It wasn't like that with Grayson Perry or Lady Hale, and I'm betting it won't be like that with Greta tomorrow on George the Poet on New Year's Eve.

Now, however, the BBC can say: Well, we invited ex-Telegraph editor Charles Moore on. We aired his criticism of the BBC. We talked to the GWPF and Matt Ridley. We allowed criticism of the Supreme Court judges.....

....and the BBC's left-wing/pro-EU critics will moan and moan about the BBC letting "far-right" Charles Moore "guest edit" the programme....

....and Lord Hall can then say that this proves that the BBC is getting it about right. 


  1. Yes, sticking him in the Saturday slot is the most predictable and blatant thing.

  2. The list of editors was heavily biased to the left-liberal BBC view of things...On that side you have Lib Dem voting, mad cat lady Hale, anti-capitalist death cult leader Greta Thunberg, shoulder chip merchant George the Annoying & Not Very Good Poet and the unconventional, if sometimes pleasingly maverick, Grayson Perry.

    Not as though that was a balanced list...

    1. Quite. And I agree about Grayson Perry being pleasingly maverick.


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